Raising the Bar @ The Nelson St Kilda

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By Jessica Williams

It’s not just the 41 international varieties of rum on offer at The Nelson St Kilda, but the booze-friendly tapas, which makes this three-month-old, nautically accoutered bar a refreshing new addition to the quieter side of Acland Street. What was once Slow Down @ Harley Court, next door to St Kilda stalwart Dogs Bar, is now The Nelson, a tapas and cocktail bar with a love of rum, or as sailors like to refer to it: “Nelson’s Blood”.

Co-owners Sasha Noble and Brendan Dinan named the cocktail bar after Admiral Lord Nelson, a 17th century sailor who was considered to have amazing luck; winning many battles on the high seas, although eventually outnumbered and out-classed. When a sniper finally brought him down at the age of 47, he was transported by ship back to his homeland in a large barrel of rum, to preserve his body. Legend has it that the sailors on board drank the preserving liquid from the cask, in the hope of acquiring some of the Admiral’s good fortune – thus the term “Nelson’s Blood” was born. Delicious!

For those new to the drop, like myself, The Perfect Storm cocktail ($12) – Sailor Jerry spiced rum with organic ginger beer and fresh lime – is a refreshing place to start. There is also a selection of Australian wines, ciders and beers, plus a large selection of other spirits.

The share-friendly food well exceeds conventional bar snacks. There are no chips or wedges to be found here. Instead, the menu includes a range of small share plates and two larger plates – the larger plates being a Marinated Fish of the Day ($MP) and a Char Grilled Peppered Steak ($39). For something sweet there are Dipping Doughnuts served with chocolate, cream and cinnamon syrup ($12).

We ordered the Sautéed Prawns ($13) marinated in fresh chilli and lime. The succulent prawns came with a serving of chargrilled multi-grain toast, perfect for soaking up the generous amount of herbed butter sauce.

Next from the galley came the Crispy Salt and Pepper Calamari ($12) – thirst-inducing bites of heaven that were tender to the tooth. The light, crisp batter largely tasted of salt and vinegar chips.

On recommendation from Sasha, a serve of Oven Roasted Boneless Sticky Pork Ribs ($14) had us salivating from the first mouthful. These moist pieces of pork had a kick of miso and aniseed, finishing with a hint of sweet hickory BBQ. The intense flavours of the dish were complimented by a serve of Rocket, Parmesan and Pear Salad ($8).

These four tapas options were only just enough for two people, but the beauty of the relaxed nature of The Nelson means there is no pressure to eat and run. See how you go and if you want order more, the menu doesn’t leave you stuck for choice!

The attention to detail is what sets The Nelson apart; the kick of lime in my glass of icy cold water and the jazzy background music playing classics like Billie Holiday.

We relished the cool ocean-breeze cascading through the open bi-folding doors on the night of our visit, and all from the large communal table – which resembles a ship’s mast. With the tall palm trees blocking the view of St Kilda McDonalds, it’s easy to mistake The Nelson’s urban St Kilda location with a more secluded, beachfront counterpart.

Further inside, the hangout is more dimly lit, and on this particular evening was deserted, as many chose to take up residence on the outdoor patio in the fresh night air, rum cocktail in hand

To see more of Jessica’s work, go to: jessicasallgoodthings.com


The Nelson St Kilda

Unit 2/56 Acland Street, St Kilda

Ph: (03) 9537 3582



Open Tuesday to Sunday

Weekdays 4pm – 11pm

Weekends 12pm – 11pm

Kitchen opens till 10pm each night

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